Curbside composting reduced Portland trash by 38% in first year

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The city of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability released a report this week showing impacts of the curbside composting program as the service enters its second year. Click through the gallery to see just how much food waste composting has cha

The city of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability released a report this week showing impacts of the curbside composting program as the service enters its second year. Click through the gallery to see just how much food waste composting has changed the city's garbage picture.  

Portlanders grumbled plenty and may have had to hold their noses some during the warm summer months, but after one year of the city's curbside composting program, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is declaring it a success.

In a report that will be presented to Portland City Council tomorrow, city officials show a 38 percent decline in the tons of residential garbage collected in the year following the launch of the program, which reduced the frequency of garbage pickup and started accepting food scraps in green curbside compost bins. The program launched Oct. 31, 2011.


Infographics from the composting report >>

Curbside collection of compostable materials meanwhile nearly tripled to 85,400 tons between November 2011 and October 2012.

The study found that Portlanders are recycling 85 percent of the materials that are accepted curbside for recycling.

Officials said there were some instances of trash ending up in the blue carts reserved for recyclable waste. A notification program ran from April to June, leaving tags on violators' bins to remind them of proper sorting techniques.

To handle the influx of questions about the program the bureau hired four additional customer service representatives, including two people fluent in Spanish. From October 2011 through October 2012 the bureau logged about 30,600 calls and emails, compared with 22,900 during the same period the previous year.

In 2007, the city council adopted a plan for recycling that set a goal of diverting 75 percent of the city's waste from landfills by 2015. The bureau estimates that the curbside program will increase Portland’s residential recovery rate from 51 percent in 2010 to about 70 percent in 2012.

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